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2024 NFL Draft watch: Players (and games) to watch for the Giants in Week 13

Which players should Giants fans be watching in Rivalry Week?

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Good Morning New York Giants fans!

Happy Friday and welcome to Week 13 of the 2023 college football schedule. I hope everyone who celebrates had a great Thanksgiving (and even if you don’t I hope you had a great Thursday). We’re starting a day early because this weekend is just stuffed to overflowing with football.

We have 13 college games Friday in addition to a full Saturday slate of games. And of course the NFL is getting in on the act too, with the Jets and Dolphins playing as well. This also happens to be Rivalry Week, which is always one of the best weeks on the college schedule.

So without further ado, let’s get to the games.

Friday games

Landon Jackson, edge, Arkansas

Arkansas vs. (9) Missouri - CBS, 4 p.m.

Landon Jackson has been rocketing up draft boards lately, and he could be a player who appeals to the Giants on the second day of the draft — if he lasts that long.

Jackson has always had untapped potential who combines uncommon size with surprising athleticism. He started his collegiate career at LSU but sat as a freshman before transferring to Arkansas before the 2022 season. It seemingly took him a year to find his feet and has been progressing toward harnessing his athletic upside.

Jackson’s 6.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss are a good step for second year of real production and suggest future growth. More importantly, they’re enough to get scouts watching Jackson in action, and that’s where the intrigue really begins.

Jackson stands 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, but somehow manages to still look lanky at that size. But unlike other big, tall, and long prospects, Jackson also has good flexibility and fluidity in his lower body. He might not be able to bend like Von Miller in his prime, but he can get surprisingly low for a player of his size.

The Giants need help on the edge to complement Kayvon Thibodeaux and help their (basically nonexistent) depth at the position. Jackson can rush from a two or three-point stance, and his size should allow him to slide inside in certain circumstances. His size, athleticism, and potential versatility could appeal to a Wink Martindale defense.

And just as a side note, Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson is a personal favorite of mine. He’s been beat up this year and might not be drafted until the third day — or might even go undrafted. However, he was excellent in 2021 and 2022 and is downright fun to watch. I affectionately nicknamed him “truckstick” for his tendency to use his 6-foot-3, 250 pound frame to run over defenders when the pass wasn’t there.

Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

(6) Oregon vs. (16) Oregon State - Fox, 8:30 p.m.

We’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about Pac-12 prospects this year, but there’s a lot of talent out on the west coast.

Ducks’ QB Bo Nix is going to get most of the attention in this game — and rightly so. He’s gotten better every year and should be in the Heisman conversation this year. But I want to talk about one of his favorite targets, WR Troy Franklin.

Franklin has emerged with Nix as one of the best receivers in the country, though he isn’t getting much buzz at the moment. However, the 6-foot-3, 185 pound 20-year old is averaging an impressive 18.0 yards per catch (up from 14.6 a year ago), and 13 touchdowns on 68 catches so far this year. For comparison, Marvin Harrison Jr. has 62 catches, 13 touchdowns, and is averaging 17.6 yards per catch.

Franklin has gotten praise this year for his high football IQ and understanding of how to use his route running to manipulate defenses and find open space. That bodes well for his transition to the NFL, as it should allow him to leverage his length, acceleration, body control, and ball skills at the next level.

Saturday games

Denzel Burke, CB Ohio State

(3) Michigan vs. (2) Ohio State - FOX, noon

The Giants might need edge help, but cornerback could also be an even greater need in 2024. Adoree Jackson is a free agent, and Tre Hawkins III might never blossom and reach his full athletic upside.

Denzel Burke has been one of the best cornerbacks in the country since his true freshman season in 2021. He has prototypical length at 6-foot-1, and has enough speed to run with most receivers in the country. He’s dealt with some injuries in his career, including a season-ending injury as a high school senior. However, Burke is a “shut down” corner when he’s at his best. There are some slight questions regarding his hip fluidity, but he’s shown growth as a press-man corner and is comfortable in off-man and zone techniques.

This is a must-watch matchup this week for Burke. J.J. McCarthy has been one of the very best quarterbacks in the country this year, and even though he might not have speedster Roman Wilson (concussion protocol), the Michigan offense is still very dangerous. Burke could cement his status as a first round pick with a good performance this week.

It's also worth noting that the Giants have a significant contingent credentialed for this game.

We've also learned that Joe Schoen was credentialed for last night's game between Oregon and Oregon State.

Chris Braswell, edge, Alabama

Auburn vs. (8) Alabama - CBS, 3:30 p.m.

The 2023 season has not gone how Alabama hoped it would, and they’re seemingly out of contention for the College Football Playoffs — though at 10-1 they might still get in.

Regardless, they still have a stacked roster that’s replete with NFL talent.

Braswell was one of the top recruits in the country back in 2020 and made good on that promise once he finally got onto the field in 2023. So far he has 7.0 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss and has been a consistent disruptor for Alabama’s defense. Braswell is a violent defender (he was ejected for the hit he laid on Chattanooga’s quarterback last week) who’s developed good technique and an array of moves to complement the power and explosiveness in his game.

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound edge defender isn’t exclusively rushing the passer, either, but is also used as a zone defender on occasion as well. But, considering he’s been in the top 10 of Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List” each of the last two years, that probably shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Braswell reportedly has a 38 12 inch vertical, squats over 700 pounds, hang-cleans 405, and clocks almost 22 mph (21.9) on the GPS.

(For reference, only two NFL players have topped 21.9 mph this year, Tyreek Hill and Devon Achane)

Braswell has solid movement skills in space, but isn’t a “bendy” speed rusher. Instead, he’s an all-out power rusher who depends on his natural leverage, technique, and explosive power to defeat tackles. Speed and bend are potent weapons for a pass rusher, and that could make Braswell a Day 2 pick. But his power is an asset in run defense and he should still be a menace off the edge, particularly if the defense can scheme advantageous match-ups.

Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Florida vs. (5) Florida State - ESPN, 7 p.m.

Keon Coleman is one of the top receivers in the 2024 draft class, and is widely expected to be one of the first five wideouts selected.

He had breakout season last year at Michigan State, racking up 58 catches for 798 yards (13.8 per catch) and 7 touchdowns for the Spartans. He transferred to Florida State this past offseason and has picked up right where he left off a year ago. So far, he has 45 catches for 615 yards (13.7 per catch) and 11 touchdowns through 10 games.

There’s a section of Giants fans who have been practically aching for a big receiver since 2008, and Coleman could certainly scratch that itch. He’s a fantastic athlete (he even played basketball as a freshman at Michigan State) with great long speed, body control, and agility. Coleman has the ability to win quickly or be an explosive down-field threat who both maximizes his size advantages and knows how to win with savvy.

He is capable of making some truly spectacular catches.

Of course, Coleman can still fall prey to the limitations big receivers often face when forced to string moves together, stack particularly athletic corners off the line of scrimmage, or haul in low targets. He also struggled against Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins last week, so his play against Florida’s Jason Marshall Jr. (assuming the two are matched up), will be something to watch.